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1/12: Cole Train, Jordy, George, Tony, Brian, Willy, Manny Sign; Pops TSN Man of the Year & HoF; '72 Draft; Bike League; HBD Ivan, Bobby, Rich, Mad Dog, Big Ed, Tom & Ed

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  • 1859 – C/1B Ed Swartwood was born in Rockford, Illinois. Swartwood played for the Alleghenys from 1882-84 (in fact, he was the first batter in franchise history, as the ‘82 Alleghenys were arguably the Pirates predecessor) and then spent his last big league season as a Pirate in 1892. He put up some good numbers, including a career .322 BA in Pittsburgh. In 1882 he led the American Association with 86 runs, 18 doubles, and 159 total bases, then went on to become the league batting champion in 1883 (the first Pittsburgh player to take the crown) with a .357 average. Swartwood married a Pittsburgh gal in 1883 while with the Alleghenys and became an Allegheny County sheriff when he was done with baseball (he also umped for a spell after his playing career). He was buried in North Side’s Union Dale cemetery after he passed on in 1924. 
  • 1866 – C Tom Kinslow was born in Washington, DC. Tom spent 10 years in the show, squeezing in 19 games with the 1895 Pirates and batting .226 after being traded by the Brooklyn Bridegrooms for Ad Gumbert. The hard-drinking Kinslow, who owned a Washington bar, was released in May for overindulgence, expressing shock at the penance – in Brooklyn, they had punished his binges with fines. He was by all accounts a friendly galoot, but the drinking led to discipline and conditioning (his weight would yo-yo) issues, and he only played 380 games during his decade in MLB. Tom died young, at 35, from “consumption” (tuberculosis). 
Biking Bucky – Ars Longa
  • 1893 - Several National League owners, led by Pirates manager Al Buckenberger and Washington owner J. Earl Wagner, formed the National Cycling Association, hoping to build bicycle tracks in their baseball stadiums to help increase both their exposure and profit; bike racing was a big-time sport at the turn of the 20th century. But not all of the teams were interested in the venture, and many big-name cyclists opted to stay with their current organizations, scuttling the idea. 
  • 1925 – 1B Big Ed Stevens (actually, a modest 6’1”, 190 lbs, but that was king-sized in the forties) was born in Galveston, Texas. The Pirates got him from Brooklyn when he was bumped off the bag by a rookie named Jackie Robinson. He replaced Hank Greenberg at first for a season in Pittsburgh, then spent his final two campaigns on the bench, putting up a .253 BA in his three Pirates years. Big Ed didn’t hit it big in the MLB, but was the man in the minors. In 16 farm seasons spanning 1941-61, Stevens belted 257 home runs and drove in 1,013 runs on his way to being named to the International League Hall of Fame. After his retirement, he scouted for the Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s. 
  • 1951 - 3B Bill “Mad Dog” Madlock was born in Memphis. The third baseman played seven seasons for the Bucs (1979-85) with a line of .297/.357/.428 while leading the league in hitting in 1981 (.341) and 1983 (.323). He was a key part of the 1979 Championship team, batting .333 in the playoffs and World Series after coming from San Francisco in a June trade for Ed Whitson. The nickname? Madlock had a fiery temper and was ejected from 18 games during his career. BTW, his birthday is reported as being on 1/2/1951 on some baseball sites, but Bill himself posted the correct date on his Twitter account. We trust him; after all, he was there. 
Willie was heatin’ up – 1965 photo via Baseball Hall of Fame 
  • 1965 - Willie Stargell and Manny Mota signed contracts with the financial terms undisclosed. Pops, who had missed 45 games in ‘64, still led the club with 21 HR and made his first All-Star team while Mota hit .277 off the bench. Willie would repeat as an AS by hitting 27 HR w/107 RBI in 1965; Manny remained a steady fixture off the bench with a .279 BA. 
  • 1972 - RH reliever Rich Loiselle was born in Neenah, Wisconsin. He tossed his entire six-season career (1996-2001) for the Bucs with a slash line of 9-18-49/4.38 during that span. Loiselle was the Bucco closer in 1997-98 when he picked up 48 of his 49 lifetime saves. He struggled after that, having both control and elbow problems, and his 18 outings in 2001 were the last he made in MLB. 
  • 1972 - The Pirates picked up two keepers in the January draft. First they drafted 3B Jim Morrison, who didn’t sign and instead went in the 1974 regular June draft to Philadelphia. But Pittsburgh kept track and finally landed him in 1982 in a deal with the White Sox. Mo spent six seasons with the Pirates, playing 92 or more games in five of them and batting .274. In the secondary phase, the Buccos selected RHP Larry Demery, who made his debut in 1974 and over four Pirates campaigns went 29-23-7/3.72 before an arm injury effectively ruined his career. 
  • 1980 - Willie Stargell was featured on the cover of The Sporting News after being selected as TSN’s Man of the Year. Pops hit 32 homers in 1979 and added five more in the postseason, winning both the NLCS and World Series MVP awards. 
Bobby Crosby – Topps Heritage
  • 1980 – IF Bobby Crosby was born in Lakewood, California. The Rookie of the Year for Oakland in 2004, he came to the Pirates after eight years with the A’s when the 30-year-old signed on as a free agent in 2010. But a .224/.301/.295 slash in 61 games got him flipped at the deadline to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a five-man swap. The Snakes released him in August, ending his MLB stay. 
  • 1987 – RHP Ivan Nova was born in Palenque, Dominican Republic. After seven years with the Yankees, he joined Pittsburgh when the Bucs sent minor leaguers OF Tito Polo and LHP Stephen Tarpley to the Bronx Bombers at the 2016 deadline for him. In 11 starts, Nova went 5-2/3.07 and the FO lured him back again as a free agent with a three year/$26M deal. He returned to earth in 2017 as his line was 11-14/4.14, in 31 games, more in line with his career results, then posted a 9-9/4.19 slash the next season before being sent to the White Sox, where he won 11 games in 2019, for prospects. He’s now a FA. 
  • 1988 - Willie Stargell was the only player elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA and the 17th player elected in his first year of eligibility. Cap’n Willie was inducted on August 1st. His Pirate slash was .282/.360/.529 with 475 HR and 1,540 RBI, both team records. Ralph Kiner is second on the Bucco list of homers with 301 while Hans Wagner is the #2 Pirate for RBI’s with 1,475. 
  • 1989 – The Bucs signed RHP Brian Fisher, 26, to a one year/$404K contract to avoid arbitration. Pittsburgh had the fireballer penciled into their rotation for the third straight year after coming over from the Yankees but he broke a bone in his knee in 1989 and only made three starts; Brian would pitch just 26 more times before retiring in 1993. They also bought the contract of C Tom Prince from AAA as they began to form their 1989 club. 
Tony Womack – 1997 Circa
  • 1999 - 2B Tony Womack signed a one-year/$1.65M contract in his first year of arb as a Super Two player, zooming past his 1998 salary of $290K. Womack deserved the boost, hitting .282 with 85 runs scored and 58 stolen sacks while becoming the first Bucco since Omar Moreno to lead the league in swipes in back-to-back campaigns. He’d take the title for a third straight time with 72 larcenies in 1999, but not as a Pirate – a few weeks after he signed the papers, he was shipped to Arizona for Jason Boyd and Paul Weichard, with the Bucs looking to clear a spot for Warren Morris. 
  • 2018 - The Pirates signed both RHP Gerrit Cole & SS Jordy Mercer to one-year/$6.75M deals, while RHP George Kontos agreed to a one-year/$2.725M contract to settle with three of their four arb-eligible players. The fourth, RHP Felipe Rivero (later Vazquez), filed for a hearing. His ask was for $2.9M, while the Bucs countered at $2.4M. Less than a week later, the two sides agreed on a four-year/$22M contract (Rivero was a Super Two with four arb years) with two added team option years potentially worth another $19M. Cole, on the other hand, was traded two days later and Kontos was released in May. Jordy lasted the season before leaving as a FA for Motown.


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